A USA Today/Gallup poll finding that half of Hispanics are political independents may give some hope to Republicans as they try to woo this fastest-growing U.S. demographic group, but a closer look at the numbers will quickly squash that hope. When pressed about which party they are more likely to vote for, Democrats hold a huge advantage over Republicans.
While 51 percent of Hispanics identified themselves as independent in the poll, 32 percent said they were Democrat and just 11 percent said Republican.
But when the pollster probed a bit further and asked which party they were leaning toward, 52 percent said they lean Democratic while 23 percent said Republican.
The news got even worse for Republicans when just registered voters are taken into account: 45 percent of them identify as Democrats, 36 percent independents and just 16 percent Republicans.
It should be noted that this poll of 1,753 Hispanics was conducted in April in May, long before President Obama announced that he was establishing a path for young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally. This announcement likely has caused some Hispanics to feel a stronger identification with the Democratic Party.
In its analysis, Gallup did not hold out much promise for the Republican Party as it tries to figure out how it will fare in a nation where Hispanics are now the largest minority.
“Hispanics as a whole are not highly integrated into the U.S. political system, given that only about half are registered to vote and a majority identify as political independents,” Gallup said. “This is in large part because of the higher detachment from the political process of Hispanic immigrants who make up roughly half of all U.S. Hispanics, but among whom 25% are registered to vote and 60% identify as political independents. Hispanics of all generations are much more likely to align with the Democratic than the Republican Party, and this preference persists among Hispanics with longer histories in the United States. Republicans do make gains among more established U.S. Hispanics but still trail Democrats by a wide margin among those who have been in the United States for two or more generations. And Hispanics who are fully integrated into the political process, namely those registered to vote, show even stronger Democratic proclivities.
“Thus, while the GOP may make some inroads among Hispanics as they develop deeper American roots in the future, Hispanics are likely to remain a reliable Democratic voting bloc for years to come.”